Anthony “AJ” Johnson, a comedian and actor best known for his parts in “Friday” and “House Party,” has died, representatives for Johnson confirmed to TheWrap Monday. He was 55.
According to Johnson’s reps, the actor — who played addict and thief Ezal in “Friday” and E.Z.E. in “House Party” — died earlier this month. His cause of death has not yet been released.
“Our BH Talent family is saddened about the loss of an amazing iconic legend in comedy, our client and friend Anthony ‘AJ’ Johnson,” Johnson’s spokespeople said in a statement to TheWrap. “We are praying for all those that were touched by his comedy, acting, but most of all his life. We are especially praying for his beloved Wife, Children, Siblings and Manager. Please give them the time they need to process and grieve such a huge loss.”
Per TMZ, Johnson’s nephew said the actor “was found lifeless in a store earlier this month in Los Angeles and rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.”
Born in 1965 in Compton, Calif., Johnson began acting in his early 20s with the encouragement of his father, who was a stuntman and a founder of the Black Stuntmen’s Association.
Johnson got his big break with the role of E.Z.E. in 1990’s “House Party.” His other notable film credits include “Lethal Weapon 3,” “Menace II Society,” “B*A*P*S,” “House Party 3,” “Friday,” “How to Be a Player,” “I Got the Hook Up,” “Hot Boyz” and “I Got the Hook Up 2.”
In Ice Cube and DJ Pooh’s “Friday,” which follows Craig Jones (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Chris Tucker), two unemployed friends who must pay a local drug dealer on a Friday, Johnson had the fan-favorite, often-quoted role of the drug addict Ezal. The film, the first in the “Friday” franchise, also starred Nia Long, Bernie Mac, Tiny “Zeus” Lister Jr. and John Witherspoon.
On the TV side, Johnson appeared in episodes of “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Martin,” “Def Comedy Jam,” “South Central,” “The Parent ‘Hood,” “Moesha,” “Malcom & Eddie” and “The Jamie Foxx Show” throughout his career.
Johnson was known for doing standup comedy routines in bars and clubs around Los Angeles after rising to fame in the ’90s.
He also appeared in multiple music videos, playing Sleazy-E, a parody character of Easy-E, in Dr. Dre’s “Dre Day” in 1992, and reprising the role in Eazy-E’s video for “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” in 1993.